A $1,000 Day in Tokyo for $100

Sushi? Check. Cherry blossoms? Check. But also a sprawling subway system and a baseball game.

Comments: 24

  1. Sounds like a pretty luxurious day for $100. I would love to see what a $20-$30 day could be like in Tokyo. Surely there must be many free things to see while walking around the city?

  2. The article is confusing as it starts off in a hotel that costs $400 per night on average but the premise is to be able to enjoy Tokyo for $100.00 per day, I don't think someone who is staying in a luxury hotel is interested in budget travel advice.

    The article would make more sense if the writer had stayed in one of the local hotels such as APA or Sunroute which are local and more in the budget of someone trying to enjoy Tokyo on $100.00 per day.

    For any traveler the most important thing to remember if trying to save money is to go where the locals go not where the tourists or business expense account crowd goes and Tokyo is no exception. There are great things to do for cheap and fun in Tokyo and great eats everywhere which the writer could have done a better job of educating the reader rather than just listing a few.

    For cheap breakfast any coffee shop near a train station has a "Morning Set" for about 600 yen. For lunch visit a food floor in one of the department stores as the offerings are endless and delicious and enjoy in their public area or outdoors weather permitting.

    Dinner can be had in a neighborhood restaurant where locals eat or after a hard day of sightseeing I oftentimes buy dinner for about 2000 yen at one of the aforementioned department stores and eat in my room making the premise of the article more sound.

    More in depth research next time so that it is relevant to the reader or in keeping with the premise of the title.

  3. And if you plan to stay in Tokyo more than one day and are on a budget, you don't have to stay in a capsule hotel or a backpackers' hostel.

    Several chains of so-called "business hotels" offer small, bare-bones but clean and safe rooms, at US$70-$100 for a single, depending on the exchange rate. The major chains are Toyoko Inn, Comfort Hotel, Super Hotel, and Dormy Inn, but you can find other non-chain hotels in a similar price range. These are not to be confused with the "love hotels," which have only fake windows, fanciful exteriors, and two prices, one for an overnight stay and one for two hours' "rest." No, the business hotel chains are perfectly respectable. Some even offer a breakfast buffet, but if it's not included in the price, check to see that it contains something to your liking.

    Tokyo has more restaurants in all price ranges and of every variety than a first-time visitor can believe, enough to make you wonder if anyone ever eats at home. My rule is that if an establishment does not have a window display of plastic models of its food or other list of prices posted outside, it's probably in the category of "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford it."

    Every department store has a gourmet food hall in its basement (a great source for free samples and take-out meals) and a floor or two of restaurants on the upper levels.

    Cabs are great, but very expensive, so rely on the superb public transit system.

  4. Instead of buying a SIM-card, I recommend renting a mobile Wi-Fi modem which you could carry in you pocket and connect to with all your devices, including the phone. You can order it in advance delivered to your hotel room together with a return envelope for mailing back from the airport before departure. The rates are quite reasonable.

  5. http://www.japanmobilerental.com/ I've been using JMR for several years. Airport(s) pickup or delivered to where you're staying. Top-flight customer service. Use your own phone, a tremendous advantage!

  6. I find that the Tokyo train day passes rarely make economic sense. You'd have to take nine or more rides (in a single day) to save any money, and in my years of ferrying visitors around the city, I've never even come close to that. Tokyo is rather compact and you'll find yourself (unintentionally) walking between attractions much of the time instead of hopping back on a train.

  7. I always find these articles to be a hoot. The writer doesn't have a $1,000 day for $100, he has a $100 day. The less expensive day may be an enjoyable experience (in some aspects maybe even a better experience), but the only thing the two experiences have in common is they take place in the same city.

  8. Going to Shinagawa for breakfast, Sugamo for a ramen bowl?? NYT, why don't you get a resident--native or expat gaijin--to write this. You might get some practical suggestions.

  9. I find this article to be misleading, and propagating the idea that Tokyo remains a "pricey" city. With the stronger dollar, it's actually a much more affordable destination, and the delights of the "Low" itinerary are much closer to the real Tokyo than the "High." Eating hotel breakfasts and having a private driver are generically expensive anywhere, not just in Tokyo. And I honestly don't know anyone who would take a rickshaw tour of Asakusa or spend precious time dressing up in kimono and having photos taken, no matter how wealthy they may be. It seems like the author had to really stretch to find expensive things to do, and those which are described do not at all reflect the true wonder of a great city.

  10. The Frugal Traveler is a wonderful series, for those of us actually planning a trip or even just wishfully armchairing it. Even if we never go, these detailed and personal articles help us to imagine the journey
    Why not list prices in current dollar amounts? It is thoughtless to make us do the math for every meal, ride, lodging and admission. In this particular case, the math is not onerous - roughly 100 to one conversion rate. But still.

  11. I've been to Japan maybe 25 times. Despite the reputation, it is much more affordable than NY. Good hotel deals are easy to find and the number of exceptional, inexpensive small restaurants is astounding. On the other hand, if you want to spend money you can easily drop $600 for a sushi meal.

  12. The importance of purchasing a SIM Card for time spent in Japan cannot be overstated. The city is indeed difficult to navigate without one; thankfully Google Maps is painstakingly detailed, much more so in Japanese cities than anywhere in the US or Europe. A must have!

  13. Your mention of trying to traverse Tokyo's train stations brought back very fond memories of my trip to Japan several years ago. I had started in Hiroshima and worked my way north. By the middle of the third week I arrived at Tokyo's Shinjuku train station ... and could not find my way out of the train station. There were plenty of signs (in English) saying "exit," but none that actually lead to an exit. In frustration I put my suitcase down and felt the tears about to fall. I picked up my suitcase, said (out loud) "suck it up, Barbara" and pressed on. Eventually found a stairway that lead outdoors. Not to a legal exit, but blessedly outdoors. I loved Japan, its sites, its people and its food. But I could do without the train station, as spotlessly clean as it was!

  14. The $100 itinerary is the best. Thanks for the memories!

  15. Sorry, but reading this article did NOT give me the impression that the $1000 a day experience could be mimicked at $100 a day.

  16. I really find this "$1000 day for $100" approach tiring and lazy. Relying on luxury hotels' concierge to come up with an itinerary is bad enough. To make a, well, poor man's version of those itineraries seems not just uninventive but boring. I used to look forward to the Frugal Traveler column, but no more.

  17. What is the address of Midori Sushi?

  18. I love Japan. I've traveled there many times and am frequently asked how expensive it is. I always say you can spend as much or as little as you want - there are many ways to have a fun trip.

  19. In lieu of using the train instead of a private sedan, let me add that we had what was easily the best Uber experience of our lives in Tokyo for the equivalent of $30--white gloved service (literally) in a luxury car, with a driver opening and closing the door for us.

  20. Thanks for the recommendations in this article. I went to Japan for the first time last November and plan to visit again this September. I highly recommend the Tokyo Subway Navigation app (mentioned in a previous NY Times article - Solo in Tokyo) and renting a mobile wifi service. I used en.wifi-rental-store.jp. You have the pocket router sent to your hotel and they include a pre-paid envelope to mail it back.

  21. Maps.me was terrific when I was in Tokyo last fall. It works off of GPS so I literally followed the arrow to my starred locations. This was especially helpful when exiting trains since it always pointed in the direction I was facing. I was also grateful for the trains.jp app, another excellent resource.

  22. is the trains.jp available for iPhone? I searched for it on the app store and didn't find it.

  23. @Ernesto
    Search for "trains jp" would get you to the official site. I think the app is either only available in Japan or the developer have pulled the app because the last news I can find of that app is more than 5 years old.

  24. I've never seen a city with more restaurants than Tokyo. Places with only a few seats, above another restaurant, and under one, and with one on each side. You will never lack for reasonably priced places to eat. When it's mealtime, just stop and look around. You'll be surrounded. Don't travel back and forth across town just to eat, they are all around and they're all fine. If you eat like a local on the street or in a train station or a Lawson's, you can afford to stay there easily, don't try to eat American-sized and priced meals those are only for businessmen on expense accounts who don't look at the bill.